British Columbia

Renewed protests in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs erupt across B.C.

Protests by Wet'suwet'en supporters sprouted and spread across British Columbia, blocking public transit, the Port of Vancouver and the stairs to the B.C. Legislature.  

Trains, traffic and legislature blocked as protests ramped up across B.C.

Demonstrators block an entrance at Clark Drive and East Hastings Street in Vancouver, on Monday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Protests by Wet'suwet'en supporters spread across British Columbia again on Monday afternoon, blocking public transit, the Port of Vancouver and the stairs to the B.C. Legislature.  

The fresh demonstrations came after police in Ontario made several arrests earlier Monday while clearing a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory erected in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.

All West Coast Express trains heading east from Vancouver to Mission were cancelled Monday afternoon during the rush hour commute as protesters blocked tracks in the Port Haney area.

The tracks were clear by evening, and the trains are expected to run regular service Tuesday morning. 

Wet'suwet'en supporters block West Coast Express trains in the Port Haney area east of Vancouver Monday afternoon. (Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism/Twitter)

Crowds gather at B.C. Legislature

By mid-afternoon, hundreds of people had gathered near the entrance to the B.C. Legislature.

Police stood on the stairs flanking protesters, but there were no reports of arrests. Later, protesters blocked the progress of a police van that arrived at the legislature. They linked arms and chanted, "peaceful and with love, unarmed and non-violent.''

Some protesters locked themselves to a gate at the legislature, which was the scene of a large protest on Feb. 11, which prompted the province to obtain an injunction when entrances to the building were blocked.

Organizers said Monday they're staying for the long haul.

"We are not here seeking arrest,'' said Indigenous youth leader Ta'Kiaya Blaney, speaking with a megaphone. "We are here as our duty as Indigenous youth. Bring your blankets, it's going to be a long night.''

A crowd gathers on the steps of the B.C. Legislature, where some demonstrators locked themselves to a gate. ( Michael McArthur/CBC)

Protest at Vancouver port

Nearly 100 people also blocked access to the Port of Vancouver at East Hastings Street and Clark Drive, preventing container trucks from leaving the port. 

WATCH | Protesters march through Vancouver blocking traffic:

The group claiming responsibility for the demonstration says its actions are a show of solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs 0:56

A line of seven trucks en route from the port quickly backed up after demonstrators blocked the intersection around 2:30 p.m. PT. Vancouver police rerouted traffic from the area. 

Police stand on stairs at the legislature, which was also the scene of another large protest Feb. 11. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

An injunction, granted by the B.C. Supreme Court on Feb. 9, is still in effect at the port. A spokesperson with Port of Vancouver said it is working with police to address the protest. 

More than 50 demonstrators were arrested at ports in B.C.'s Lower Mainland in earlier protests this month.

Anti-pipeline demonstrators march to block a truck entrance at Clark and Hastings streets in Vancouver on Monday, February 24, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A new CN Rail blockade was also set up in northwestern B.C. on Monday near New Hazelton, north of Smithers, less than two weeks after one was dismantled at the same location.

The railway runs through the territory of Gitx'san Nation, members of which were at the blockade. 

On Monday evening, several people were arrested at the blockade, according to Linda Stephens who saw her husband Gitx'san Nation Hereditary Chief Spookw arrested by police. 

"People are pretty upset that these hereditary chiefs are being arrested on their own territory," she said.

A spokesperson with CN Rail said they are aware of the protest which is blocking the tracks near New Hazleton, B.C. (Dan Mesec)

A number of people had been occupying the Mohawk territory for weeks in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, who oppose the development of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline — a project that would cross their traditional territory in northern B.C.

The Ontario blockade has brought freight and passenger rail traffic to a virtual standstill since it was built on Feb. 6, near Belleville. On Monday morning, dozens of police officers arrived at the encampment and began making arrests after demonstrators stayed past a midnight deadline.

Numerous similar rail and road blockades have sprung up in multiple provinces throughout the month, halting freight and passenger train service for much of the country.

A representative with Monday's demonstration in Vancouver said solidarity actions will continue until the demands of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs have been met.

 

With files from Rafferty Baker, Cory Correia and The Canadian Press